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A top-secret joint special operations unit called the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observation Group (SOG) conducted unconventional missions in Southeast Asia.

One such operation called for US Army Green Beret SOG teams to be inserted via helicopter into Laos to observe and disrupt communist activity along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. A-1 Skyraiders routinely escorted the teams during insertion and extraction.

If a SOG team was detected, the call of “Prairie Fire Emergency” triggered an intensive extraction effort. A-1s used their firepower and played a key role in defending the team and helicopters during extraction.

The 6th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) at Pleiku, South Vietnam, deployed in 1968 and focused on supporting SOG. A detachment of ten A-1s from the 56th Special Operations Wing called OLAA (Operating Location Alpha Alpha) at Da Nang AB, South Vietnam, later replaced them.

Both units used the call sign Spad – a nod to the French fighter used in World War I. By war’s end, all US Air Force A-1 units supported SOG activities and the PRAIRIE FIRE missions in Southeast Asia.

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